Under Milk Wood Revisited: The Wales of Dylan Thomas

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Dylan Thomas was the self-styled “bombastic adolescent provincial Bohemian” whose wizardry with words ensured his dominion over poverty, alcoholism, self-destruction and ultimately a premature death. He is immortal.

“From the window of his childhood via a voyage across the fishingboat-bobbing sea he stored and sifted the episodes that nibbled at his imagination. Events, people, characters, and places were intricately weaved into a glorious tapestry of religion, sex and death, which has become a timeless memory of Welsh whimsy that never actually existed and yet will live forever.

“Like the tides that Dylan watched from his writing shed perched high on the cliff top in Laugharne, so Under Milk Wood – a “play for voices” that became a spellbinding movie – has drawn millions of readers to make a pilgrimage to the nocturnal quiet of Llareggub.

“In his centenary year this photographic book captures the iconic landscape that fired his passion for language.

“From Swansea’s Cwmdonkin Park via the harbour at Fishguard to the Boat House overlooking the estuary at Laugharne, Under Milk Wood Revisited takes the reader on a journey into the magical associations with the past and the roots that held Dylan Thomas to Wales: the land of his fathers and from which he drew his inspiration.”

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Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas

Written in 1945, Fern Hill begins as an evocation of Dylan Thomas’s childhood visits to his aunt’s farm, which expands into dreamlike metaphors and a lament for lost youth

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs

About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,

The night above the dingle starry,

Time let me hail and climb

Golden in the heydays of his eyes,

And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns

And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves

Trail with daisies and barley

Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns

About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,

In the sun that is young once only,

Time let me play and be

Golden in the mercy of his means,

And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves

Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,

And the sabbath rang slowly

In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay

Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air

And playing, lovely and watery

And fire green as grass.

And nightly under the simple stars

As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,

All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars

Flying with the ricks, and the horses

Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white

With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all

Shining, it was Adam and maiden,

The sky gathered again

And the sun grew round that very day.

So it must have been after the birth of the simple light

In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm

Out of the whinnying green stable

On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house

Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,

In the sun born over and over,

I ran my heedless ways,

My wishes raced through the house high hay

And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows

In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs

Before the children green and golden

Follow him out of grace,

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me

Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,

In the moon that is always rising,

Nor that riding to sleep

I should hear him fly with the high fields

And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.

Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,

Time held me green and dying

Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

Book Published September 2014